Words

Because even the smallest of words can be the ones to hurt you, or save you.

– Natsuki Takaya

Words are powerful. Words touch your heart and make you think and feel things based on what other people say. I usually take people on face value and believe what they say. Is it naive to do that?

As I have been going out on dates with different men, I notice that they are telling me things I want to hear. Or things that they think I want to hear. First dates are about creating an impression and flattery and moves, it seems. Of course, flattery makes everyone happy, at least in the moment. But what about the longer term? Pretenses create distrust and make me apprehensive. I often find myself thinking if I can trust someone for what they are saying, or if they are saying something just for the sake of it, or to make me think or feel a certain a way.

When I go on a date, I am forthright about who I am and my life. I have a ‘this is who I am, take it or leave it’ philosophy. I also talk about my vulnerabilities because I feel that that’s the only way to create genuine connections. I don’t want to pretend to be someone I am not to impress the other person or to make sure that I get to see them again. 

My online dating profile says that I’m a feminist. It’s intentional. I have noticed that people come with their own assumptions about who I am and what I am going to be like. I have been called dominating and uptight. If someone knew me for a considerable amount of time, that’s the last thing they would say about me. Next time, if a date brings up feminism, maybe I should ask them what they think feminism or being a feminist means. Sometimes, people ask me that when they chat with me. It’s mostly been men who think that feminists are ‘man haters’, but at least they say something about it, and we don’t waste our time and energy on trying to talk or meet.

Thankfully, there are some people who mean things they say. My best friend N always stands by things that he says. When we met in college, he made a few promises but made sure that he kept them. He wouldn’t commit to something that he was not sure about. This holds true till today – I know he is someone who will always be honest and I can count on him when he says something. Another person I can think of is B. My sisters thought that B ‘sweet talked’ me and I believed things he said. As I meet other people, I notice how different he was. How deliberate he was in choosing the words he used and how he thought about the impact that it would have on the other person. With B, I could trust him for what he was saying because he was always genuine. Interestingly, I recently realized that B never said a straight no to anything. He didn’t force himself to do something he didn’t want to, but he had a convoluted way of saying no. When I asked him about it, he said that he does that for the people he cares for. If someone doesn’t matter, he would say a straight no to their request. But for people that matter, he found polite ways to convey how he felt. I struggled with that a bit towards the end of our relationship. I sometimes like to hear a clear no so that I know where the other person stands. 

In my close relationships, I am a blabbermouth, I say whatever comes to my mind. I am genuine and honest because I think we are all already fighting enough battles, why add to them. Instead, I choose to be polite, respectful, and genuine. If the other person appreciates me for who I am, great. If they don’t, then we’re both being saved some time, emotional investment, and heartache. Another thing that I clearly convey is a no so the other person knows where I stand. Since most people don’t think about or understand consent, it’s so important for me to be clear when I communicate. But that is another conversation for another post, I suppose!

What’s your preference? Do you prefer people to be straighforward and call a spade a spade? Or do you prefer a more diplomatic way of things being said?

Ending the post with this cheesy song from my teenage years – Words by Boyzone

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Coping with exhaustion!

Since I am behind by a day and I want to write two posts today, I am going to think of possible solutions to my problem of feeling exhausted by adulting all the time. I am listing some of the thoughts I have, I am hoping to actually implement these and establish a routine. If you have any strategies to better manage time or feel less exhausted, please share them in the comments. Thank you! ūüôā

  • Get out of bed when I wake up rather than checking all the updates on my phone.
  • Reduce screen time, especially just checking facebook on my phone.
  • Use time more efficiently – make regular to-do lists in the order of priority and try to do small tasks in short breaks in between work rather than spend that time browsing the internet.
  • Practice mindfulness meditation and deep breathing for ten to twenty minutes everyday.
  • Exercise for at least thirty minutes four times a week.
  • I am hoping that writing everyday as a part of this blogging challenge will also help me focus on a single task in the present moment.
  • Dedicate thirty minutes everyday to reading blogs/opinion pieces and not think about the million other things I need to do at that time.

Do you have any other strategies that work for you?

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Adulting

Urban Dictionary defines Adulting as

Adulting (v): to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups.

Do you ever feel like your life has just become about survival, that you don’t have any energy to actually invest into anything? I have been feeling like that for more than two years now. It’s not that I am busy all the time. I do have free time and spend it on some rest and recuperation. Every now and then, I go out with friends for drinks or dinner, or watch a TV show or movie. Every few weeks, I try to read a book. However, I find myself disengaged during most of these activities because I feel tired all the time. I haven’t been able to do things that require me to be sharp and focused on the task at hand. For example, I used to read a lot of blogs, opinion pieces, and news articles, mostly focused on gender, but also on other social justice issues. Now, I find myself so exhausted that my reading has significantly reduced. It bothers me that I haven’t been reading all the blogs I follow and I end up missing out on many articles on gender issues. When I was in Pittsburgh, I was volunteering for a non-profit organization for four years. I was very active and used to go to weekly meetings and also spend a considerable amount of time working on some of that stuff at home. It’s now been two years since I left that organization and haven’t been able to fill that void. I moved to Toronto three months ago and have been thinking about finding another organization to volunteer with, but I feel like I don’t even have the mind-space to think about, search, and find where I would like to volunteer. For some reason, I feel overwhelmed all the time. I used to reflect and blog more, be present in conversations with family and friends, but I find that that requires significantly more effort now. I started the blogging challenge three days ago – I am already behind by a day, and even considered quitting it, feeling that I can’t do it. Yes, this is how I am feeling on the third day.

A lot has happened in the last two years – I wrote and defended my Ph.D. Dissertation; wrote and published scientific papers; ended a really long term relationship; had my family visit for graduation and traveled with them; had parents staying with me for three months; obtained a teaching certification; mentored a research based course for first year grad students; searched for and applied to jobs; interviewed for and started a new job; wrapped up six years of work and home life in Pittsburgh; took charge of my life, took a break, and traveled for a few weeks; moved cities and countries; moved twice in three months in Toronto; have almost setup a new apartment; fell in love with someone and suffered heartbreak again; went out on more dates in two months than in fourteen years of my life; attended more wine and paint classes; read some more books; developed a habit of cooking and eating healthy quite regularly; tried to exercise and lose weight; and other things that I can’t remember right now.

On one hand, I feel that this is a lot of life changes for one person to deal with. On the other hand, I feel that most people are dealing with many big things in life. I am not a single parent or working two or three jobs to make ends meet. I have one job – yes it doesn’t pay well and it’s long hours on my feet, but I feel like I shouldn’t be feeling as tired as I do. Why can’t I just deal with things and function normally like everyone else. The problem is not that I am not functioning normally but that I feel overwhelmed all the time. I want to feel more energetic and excited about life but I constantly feel like it’s just becoming about survival, about putting one foot in front of the other just to stay afloat. I find myself thinking if it’s me or do other people also feel like this? Do you find adulting so hard?

Song on my mind – Khudi ko kar buland itna by Junoon

 

 

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Happy New Year!!

After three years, I am excited to be participating in the January blogathon challenge hosted by Maya. First of all, wish you all a happy new year.. May the coming year be filled with love, happiness, and peace.

I’ve had a rather interesting weekend. Can you guess where I am right now!! Well even I won’t have been able to guess this a week ago.. ¬†I am in a ski resort a few hours north of Toronto, I took some beginner ski lessons today and tried to ski for about three hours.. Now I’m not a winter person at all and have never tried any winter sports.. So how exactly did I end up here eh? By the way, eh is the Canadian version of huh, I think.

Anyway, going back to the story, it was my birthday on Friday, a milestone birthday, the one where I turned 30. I need to write a post about it but that will happen later.. So I had been planning this birthday for 2 years, not making concrete plans, but just that I wanted to do something special.. After many conversations about a sisters trip to europe or asia, it so turned out that I couldn’t leave canada or rather that I didn’t have time to get visas for a new country.. So we looked for options where I wouldn’t need a visa.. In the end, because of crazy work schedules and dealing with other adult life stuff, ¬†we decided to travel to Cuba for a week- me, S1, and BIL1.. While it wasn’t the ideal way I wanted to celebrate my 30th, I accepted it and was quite excited about the trip..

On Christmas eve, I went to the airport since I was flying out on Christmas morning.. At the airport, I found out that there was a recent change in visa rules and I couldn’t travel to Cuba without a tourist visa.. Yes, I was at the airport, all packed and ready to check-in when I found this out. I was so exhausted that I didn’t feel anything. I was numb. Once I was sure that nothing could be done, all I wanted was to go home and sleep. It hit me the next day that I was going to be alone in Toronto. It took the christmas long weekend, many tears, a good book, crappy food, and some good conversations with friends for me to get out of this funk.. The one thing that I didn’t want for my 30th birthday was to be alone and that’s what ended up happening.. I have become cynical about life.. When this happened, I wasn’t even angry, just sad.. I’ve gotten so used to things not working out that I’m usually not angry about them.. Anyway, I also spent these three days looking for options to travel somewhere because I didn’t want to waste my vacation days.. After a lot of searching and thinking, I found out about a meetup trip to a ski resort. This was uncharted territory for me, I’ve never traveled with a meetup group and don’t really care for winter sports.. So I decided to signup for this trip with no expectations, loading enough books on my kindle to keep me occupied if I didn’t enjoy the company or activities.. The only thing I knew was that I didnt want to be totally alone for my birthday and the new year’s weekend. And it turns out that I’ve had a good weekend!!

We arrived here on Friday night and will be leaving on Monday morning. There have been about 30 people at the chalet, and we’ve spent the last two nights talking and drinking and dancing.. I met many new people and hopefully made a couple of friends.. On new year’s eve, I even taught people how to dance to bollywood music!!

For me, this week has been about working very hard to accept things that made me deeply unhappy, to be flexible and adapt to life’s unpredictable situations, and to do what I want to do in spite of my fears.. So, on that note, I’ll see you tomorrow! How was your new year weekend?

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Layers

I’ve been thinking about the layers of emotions and feelings, what we think we feel vs what we actually feel.. I usually don’t run away from my ¬†thoughts and feelings.. In fact, I have quite the opposite problem – I dwell on them too much when I’m trying to figure out why I feel a certain way or what I want or what’s going on.. There’s ¬†something that happened on Sunday that I’m struggling ¬†with.. While I can’t stop thinking about it, I feel this strong physiological response and have been unable to process it..

If you’ve been reading this space, you probably know about B – the guy I was dating for a few months and fell in love with and who was everything that I had been looking for.. Now, all was well in my world last weekend and I was working towards getting over B, or so I thought.. I even went on a date last week and was acting mature and told B about it when we talked on Saturday.. B and I have been friends, we talk about once a week and we’re happy to share life’s happenings with each other.. For some reason, I ¬†randomly called him on Sunday night and as we were about to hang up, he mentioned that he recently ¬†started seeing someone.. I didn’t know what to say except that I didn’t know and we hung up within a few minutes.. I immediately called him back and asked how long had it been, I don’t know why I needed to know that but I did.. Within a few minutes, we realized that I wasn’t OK with this new piece of information.. He was surprised at my reaction and I didn’t quite know what I was feeling and why.. We talked for another half hour as I quietly cried on the phone.. He sensed that and asked if I was alright and I said I was.. I told him I was surprised and I couldn’t quite understand what I was feeling.. We talked about what he and the relationship still meant to me and a few things I had not told him before.. All I knew was I couldn’t stop crying and there was a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.. I also felt guilty because I wanted to be happy for him since he was happy.. After hanging up, I felt like I couldn’t breath and the walls were closing in on me.. I cried in bed as I felt someone had kicked me in the gut, it felt like something or someone had died.. At some point that night, I finally fell asleep but I haven’t been able to shake off this feeling, this pit of dread in my stomach.. When I woke up the next morning, I text him that I may be so affected because subconsciously, I felt/thought/hoped that I meant more to him than he said/realized and that someday he would miss me and would want to be with me.. Someday, he would change his mind and feel the way I do.. His moving on and seeing someone else so soon is like a slap in the face, it tells me that that’s not the case and is not going to happen.. It makes me realize that this is just an illusion in my head.. My mind goes back to this conversation but then runs away from it.. My stomach clenches and I feel nauseous and I can’t understand why, so I’m writing about it here in an attempt to confront my thoughts and emotions and figure out what’s going on..

“The hardest part of waking up in the morning is remembering everything you were trying to forget last night.‚ÄĚ

Over the last three months, I have found myself fondly remembering many shared moments with B, big and small.. However, right now, whenever I think of any of that , I think of him sharing those moments with another woman and I can’t handle that.. Both B and I had past relationships and we were comfortable talking about them.. The past never bothered me but a future does..¬†My rational mind tells me that this is crazy because things are over between us.. Of course, I didn’t expect him to stay single but I also didn’t think about him being with someone else.. I wonder if this is just jealousy or something more..

B had been through a few rough relationships and decided not to be in a long term relationship and I knew that within the first few weeks of meeting him.. After about five years or so, I’m not exactly sure how long, this was the first semi-serious relationship he was in.. We both had a great connection and I was almost sure that he would change his mind about not wanting to be in a long term relationship.. I really loved him and cared for him and I just wonder why it wasn’t enough. I now wonder, did his not changing his mind, at some point, become about me not being enough? If what we shared wasn’t enough? Watching stupid romantic movies while growing up, I was waiting for my happy ending and I felt that this was it.. I grew up watching, in reel and real life, women fixing and saving men from whatever demons were plaguing them.. I wonder if I was subconsciously trying to do that, if B not changing his mind meant that my love and what we shared wasn’t enough for him.. As much as I’ve tried to fight and move away from this mindset, it sometimes finds a way back..

When I think about our conversation, I find it very hard to think of him being ¬†with another ¬†woman.. When we were together, we both had a lot going on.. I was crazy busy applying to jobs and interviewing, and then wrapping up work and home and 7 years of my life in the US.. He was in a similar situation – he was applying for jobs and interviewing and wrapping up his work.. We were only able to see each other once a week and despite all this, we had a great time together.. In my head, this was evidence that we had a really strong connection if we provided so much support to each other in the middle of these storms.. In the last two months, things have calmed down for him, he is working in a new job that he really likes, he has a good work life balance and he is happy.. I’m genuinely happy for him for all these things.. What I struggle with is why I didn’t get a chance to be with him in these situations, a real chance at a relationship with him.. I’m angry that someone else gets that chance.. I’m not angry at him or her, but at life and circumstances and fate.. I’m angry because I feel like life’s been unfair to me.. I’m angry and frustrated and I’m tired of feeling hurt and of longing for love.. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I had stayed in Pittsburgh a bit longer.. I know that I can’t control life or its outcomes but I can’t stop thinking about this..

When I think of B with this person, I have a strong feeling that it will be something long term.. What if they decide to get married someday.. I know that I should be happy for him if that’s what he wants someday and decides to go ahead with it.. I genuinely respect him and care for him and want him to be happy.. But I feel like I’ve been cheated of something.. I feel that that person could have been with me.. Our relationship ended for no other reason except that I had to move out of Pittsburgh and I feel like that’s one of life’s cruel jokes.. When ¬†you’re hurting in love, people who love you and care for you usually say something to the effect of you deserve better or that he or she didn’t deserve ¬†you or that it was the other person’s loss.. This is what I heard but I don’t agree.. We both treated each other so well, there was so much respect, appreciation, and space in this relationship.. I felt that he valued and treated me just the way I wanted to be treated..

Another thing that I’m thinking about is replaceability, that everyone in our life is replaceable.. When we were talking that night after B told me, he said that the time he spent with me was one of the happiest times in his life.. He had told me that he was very happy with me within the first few weeks of meeting and he has always said that I will always be special for him.. I told him that I know that and realize that a relationship ending does not mean that what we had with that person wasn’t special .. However, I can’t help but think that if it was that special, then why did it end.. Some part of me ends up thinking that what we had was not special ¬†enough, that I was not special enough.. I’ve been alright with being replaceable.. When my 8 year relationship ended, I genuinely wanted my ex to meet someone who he would be happy with.. Maybe the problem in the current situation is that we were really ¬†happy and compatible together and I feel that there’s no reason for us to not be together.. ¬†I can’t stop thinking about what could have been..

This was the best relationship that I’ve been in.. I know that I would have done whatever it took to give it a real chance, if he were willing.. A little over a month ago, I wrote him a really long mail pouring my heart out and telling him all that I felt for him.. It was an attempt to leave no stone unturned and also to reason with him and hopefully make him reconsider his decision.. The only thing that I’ll be mad at him for is that he never replied to that email.. It was hard for me to write that mail, it took me days and I invested a lot of emotion in it.. I expected him to respond.. When I asked him about it, ¬†he said that he didn’t feel ready to invest the emotions to respond to that email.. At some point, I accepted that and moved on.. When he told me about his seeing someone else, I was a little angry that he couldn’t invest emotions to respond to my email but can invest emotions to start seeing someone else.. I know that that’s his choice and decision to make and I have no right to be mad at him for this.. A new relationship usually brings a lot of excitement ¬†and positive vibes, so these are two very different ¬†situations.. But I can’t help feeling hurt about him not bothering to respond to that email..

So this is how I feel right now. Just when you think you’re moving in the right direction and life is getting better, life kicks you in the gut and you’re back where you started.. Is this how loss and grief feels? Have you dealt with unrequited love or something like this? I don’t know if I’m over-reacting or being overly dramatic about all this, but it just hurts too much right now.. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions for me as I deal with this.

Today morning, I saw this quote and maybe I need to try and let things go, I just can’t figure out how to do it..

“Your peace is more important than driving yourself crazy trying to understand why something happened the way it did. Let it go.” – Mandy Hale

 

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What a Year!

How long has it been since I’ve been here! I’ve missed writing and I’ve missed this space.. I know that I have never written here regularly, but I think of things I want to write about almost every other day.. I actually wanted to participate in NaBloPoMo this year but the last few days were crazy and I didn’t get around to it.. I even had the first post drafted in my head.. OK, the first few lines of the first post, I admit! But that still counts, right?

Anyway, coming back to now.. Where shall we start.. 2016 has been quiet a year for me, so many exciting things have happened.. So shall we start with an update.. in bullet points, perhaps? I know it’s not the end of the year but I feel that this year needs a recap already.. I think it has been a great year for me, I wanted to make the last year of my twenties count, and I think I’m doing a good job at it! ūüôā So let’s start with an update:

I missed the blogathon in January, so I decided to write everyday in February.. I almost wrote everyday but gave up in the last few days.. In February, I was considering online dating as I had written here, and one Friday night in March, I decided to bite the bullet and give it a shot.. It was a night when I was frustrated with going back to my exes and getting disappointed.. What followed was about a month of conversations with a few people and a couple of boring first dates.. And then I met B and we clicked on the first date.. Despite a lot of doubts about getting involved with someone at the time, I couldn’t resist the temptation and we kept seeing each other and I fell head over heels in love with him.. I have briefly written about him here and here.. We were together for a little less than four months and it’s been over three months since I left but I am still in love with him and trying very hard to get over him.. However, I have no regrets at all.. He was perfect for me, and I can’t stop remembering all the sweet little things he did for me.. We were driving through the forest and he sang “Lean on me” to me because I mentioned that I liked the song.. On our first trip together, I forgot to pack a toothbrush and he had packed a spare one for me just in case.. I could go on about the so many things that he did and why he means so much to me..¬† All in all, he showed me what it’s like to love and want and respect someone and feel loved and wanted and respected in an adult romantic relationship.. Even though he never said he loved me, all that he did when we were together conveyed that love.. Most importantly, he made me respect and fall in love myself again and showed me all that I offer in a relationship..

I also spent the first half of this year applying to lots of jobs and interviewing at a few places.. Initially, I only applied for jobs in Canada because I had decided to move here from the US.. After many melt-downs and existential crises, I also applied to jobs in the US and interviewed for a couple of positions.. Eventually, I accepted a postdoctoral position in Toronto and moved here in September end.. It’s not my dream job and is a compromise in some ways but it’s a step in the right direction, hopefully.. I had been thinking about wanting to move to Canada for a few years now and it happened and it will hopefully work out in the long term..

It was a lot of work to wrap up seven years of my life in the US.. I had to organize six years of work in the lab and leave things in a state that someone else could continue working on my projects.. At home, I spent a lot of time organizing my things.. I only kept about 30% of the things I owned, donated most of my stuff and sold all the furniture.. There were endless days of sorting and packing and I was exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed for the last couple of weeks.. Even though it was crazy at the time, I was so happy and proud of myself that I accomplished all of this on my own.. The only help I had was when I asked B and a friend to take things to a donation place and the storage facility because I don’t have a driver’s license.. I managed everything else on my own and it was empowering.. As I think of the last few minutes in the apartment, I remember this conversation with B.
“Do you still have a spine?” he asked.
“I do, but it’s ready to break into two,” I answered, lying next to him on the carpet.
“You have a spine of steel. I am so proud of you for all that you do.”
With tears in my eyes, I managed to move closer to him and kissed him.

For many years in graduate school, I had wanted to take time off after my Ph.D. degree.. Initially, I wanted to take a a year off but reality eventually dawned and I realized that a year would not be feasible.. When I was looking for jobs, I kept this as a priority and was eventually able to take two full months off.. I couldn’t leave North America because of visa issues and spent some time struggling with the reality of not being able to travel to Indonesia or Europe (both were concrete travel plans at some point).. I also didn’t want to travel alone to begin with but I made my peace with it.. I chose to accept these restrictions and make the best of what I had.. I traveled across the country on the Amtrak, spent some time in a few cities on the West coast, and had some interesting experiences, both good and bad.. I am so glad I gathered the courage to make this trip and enjoyed the luxury of time.. After spending a few weeks with my sister and BIL in Edmonton, I traveled to Tofino in Vancouver Island for a week and that was surreal.. I definitely have to write more about these travels and should leave some fodder for the blogging challenge!

I moved to Toronto a little over a month ago and I’m still transitioning and settling in.. There are many days when I feel overwhelmed with changing jobs, cities, and countries.. I feel stressed and exhausted having to deal with everything on my own.. I am still looking for apartments and have to move again in December..¬† On many days, I’m annoyed and frustrated with many things and I question my decision to move to Canada.. Of course it doesn’t help that I miss my friends and B and my life in Pittsburgh.. But there are also days when I feel alright.. When I feel at peace and think that things will eventually work out.. Big changes in life are hard and I hope that Toronto will feel like home a few months or a year or two later..¬† Spending many days and nights thinking about B and missing him, I finally decided to give online dating a try again.. I realize now that I can survive on my own and be moderately happy but I am happier when I am in a fulfilling relationship.. Earlier this week, I went on a first date that was a bit meh.. And instead of just meeting this guy again because I don’t want to be alone, I told him that I’m not interested.. This is when I realized that I’m so glad that I met and dated B because it gave me a good idea for what I want and how a good relationship made me feel.. So, I think and hope that I am finally in a position to say “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened..”

For me, this year has been about being courageous and doing things I want to despite my fears, and I hope that I continue to live my life on this track.. I will leave you with this quote..

“Our dreams will break the boundaries of our fear.” – Brandon Flowers

Song on my mind – All of Me by John Legend

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Moments

Life’s all about moments
big and small
and someone to share them with
or not…

I hiked
through the rain forest
to this beach
with gorgeous views
and crashing waves
that calm my soul…

There’s a few other people
A mid aged couple
eating lunch on the rocks
A younger couple
sitting on a log
An older couple
walking and holding hands
A little further
I see a woman
writing in her journal…

I think to myself
what I want to do
I’ve taken pictures
to my heart’s content
I’m carrying a book
but no journal or pen
So I type on my phone
whatever comes to mind…

Solo travel is exhilarating
but also exhausting
To step out of your comfort zone
Be the master of your time
Reach out to people
Make some new friends
Be responsible for yourself
for the good and the bad times…

I look at the ocean again
and think about the rock I’m perched on
exposed at low tide
what would happen
if a big wave came crashing by

I think about love
and life
what would it be like
to lose a loved one to death
harder than heartbreak, I guess…
I am intrigued
how one dimensional life can feel
when you’re grieving a loss
how nothing seems to matter
on days like that…

I sit here transfixed
by the warmth of the sun
and the sound of the waves
and say a silent thanks
for being present
in this moment
that I long to share with you…

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